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MSL Landing Site Selection Update - 12.04.2008

NASA and the Project have elected to delay the Mars Science Laboratory launch from 2009 to 2011. The project has performed preliminary analyses of the launch/arrival conditions including required entry velocity, Mars atmospheric conditions, and the EDL communications visibility, and concluded that the current four landing site finalists are all still reachable with a 2011 launch. The Mission Design/Navigation and EDL teams have begun detailed work and will be moving out quickly to refine the story. Based on discussion within the project and program, we would like to retain our current four finalists as the finalists for the 2011 launch, while retaining some flexibility for responsiveness to new discoveries. We would like to use the extra time to better characterize our four candidates from both the scientific and engineering perspectives, and expect to postpone the Fourth Community Workshop tentatively scheduled for April 2009. Please stand by as we develop a revised schedule, and we thank the entire Mars community for their support up to this point and into the future.

Michael Watkins, MSL Mission Systems Manager
John Grotzinger, MSL Project Scientist
Ashwin Vasavada, MSL Deputy Project Scientist

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